Liberal Democrats Call For Clarity On Leisure Company

By Conor McKenzie, Jun 18, 2020 4:06

Liberal Democrat councillors have hit out at the ‘abysmal lack of communication’ from Harrogate Borough Council on the creation of a leisure company and called for reassurances before support can be given.

The abysmal lack of communication we have seen gives me no reassurance that this will be as transparent and accountable as it needs to be.

Councillors have not been offered a briefing until Monday 29th June and the public consultation — run during the pandemic —  has raised many concerns that appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Many people were unaware of the consultations even existing members of the Harrogate Borough Council leisure facilities.

Liberal Democrats have several concerns that need to be addressed before support can be given:

  • The company board must be fully transparent and accountable, with major decisions being made by Full Council

  • Prices must be affordable, with an introduction of concessionary rates to allow less well-off people to easily access the services

  • Profits must be invested back into leisure services,not using leisure services as a cash cow to offset costs elsewhere

  • Current services must be protected, especially Starbeck Baths

  • Knaresborough Pool should be built on the current site, while not affecting service offered by the current building

  • The service must be brought back in-house if the company gets into financial trouble

  • Current workers must be protected and new staff must have the same pay and conditions

Commenting, Councillor Pat Marsh said:

“It is hard to argue with the VAT savings that this proposal could bring, though the abysmal lack of communication we have seen gives me no reassurance that this will be as transparent and accountable as it needs to be.

“If this is to go ahead it must be done with very little day-to-day difference within the service. It must be about delivering a quality service, not a profit-hungry corporation. It must remain affordable, with prices not increasing beyond inflation. It must guarantee the protection of services, especially Starbeck Baths. It must be transparent and accountable, with major decisions being made by full council. Current workers must be protected and new staff must receive the same pay and conditions.

“These are very reasonable expectations and they need to be included in the proposal for us to support it.”

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